The Long Version

Retired broadcast journalist. Blogging helps scratch the itch. Recovering exRepublican – Sober and still Conservative.

Posts Tagged ‘Brigham Young University Honor Code

Keith Olbermann, BYU’s Honor Code, and other Friday Foibles

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I used to like Keith Olberman.  I mean I don’t hate the man or anything, I don’t know him personally, but I don’t care much for him any more.  When he was on ESPN he was enjoyable to watch, quick witted, funny, and knowledgeable.  Now he just seems angry.

Maybe he’s dealing with regrets about leaving ESPN and the sports gig.  Regrets sometimes make us angry.  Maybe he’s still mad at losing his deal with MSNBC .  Although it could be argued his “release” happened partly due to his anger, so maybe that wasn’t the tipping point.  Maybe he’s just frustrated with his growing irrelevance in exile on Current TV, his newest home for political assassination attempts and overall mean spirited dart throwing platform.  I don’t know what caused it, but I don’t care for it and it appears a majority of Americans don’t care for it either regardless of their personal world views or ideologies.

The latest example of the angry man syndrome KO exhibits came in a “read between the lines” tweet about S.E. Cupp, conservative columnist for the New York Daily News and radio commentator on Glenn Beck’s syndicated network Mercury Inc.  Ms. Cupp expressed her opinion about Planned Parenthood on the Joy Behar show recently and apparently Mr. Olbermann didn’t like her opinion and proceeded to make his feelings known through his twitter feed.

That got the attention of a few more tweeps.

Realizing what he just implied (only he knows if it was intentional or not) he starts to back peddle.

I am actually quite impressed with how fast Keith can run backwards!

I couldn’t help myself and jumped into the tweetness of the moment

No reply from Keith.  I guess I just don’t have enough followers…kinda like Keith.

The Brandon Davies saga at BYU may have simmered down a bit now that March Madness is over and Jimmer Fredette is eying the NBA, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hot topic any more.  A sports blog called DeadSpin posted a blog authored by Luke O’Brien and Darron Smith making a case for racism in the BYU Honor Code system and the way its enforced.

The two proceeded to use statistics with little to no citation, quotes from former black athletes (and it should be noted every athlete they interviewed was a disgruntled player who had run into problems with the Honor Code and had an obvious axe to grind), and lots of he said – she said, rumor, and innuendo.  They didn’t have a single quote from a black athlete who enjoyed his/her experience at BYU even though many of them have since come forward to speak out against the article and its implications.   Ronny Brown, Brian Kehl, Brian Logan, Justin Robinson and Brandon Bradley, all tell a very different tale when you ask them about their experience at BYU.

Instead the authors focused on Thomas Stancil, Ray Hudson and Tico Pringle all players who despite their talents could never break into the starting lineup and ultimately got into trouble with the Honor Code resulting in their dismissal from BYU.

The bottom line here is the article was severely one sided, with apparently little or no attempts to bring any balance to the story.  That under any circumstance is at the least poor journalism and at worst a hatchet job.

Some light may be shed on that theory by considering who wrote the article.  I had a hard time finding out who Luke O’Brien is but I found a website that said he was an award winning journalist, but didn’t mention what awards or from what sources.  It said he has had articles published by the Atlantic, Fortune, Details, Rolling Stone, Fast Company, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Boston Magazine and Slate and that he’s a graduate of Harvard and Columbia.  Seems if all that was true he’d know better than to publish such a one sided story seriously lacking in adequate attribution and citation.

Darron Smith is a former BYU Professor of Sociology who was dismissed from the school after writing a book critical of the LDS faith for its handling of black members and its priesthood throughout its history.  Smith is a Mormon himself, but is very vocal about his belief that the LDS Church should do more to right the wrongs of racism in the early days of the church.  His dismissal from BYU however, could lead one to believe this is a bit of payback.  I’m not saying that is the case because no one knows his motivation but him.

In a recent radio interview, Smith said he held no animosity toward BYU or the church but felt there were inequities and racism being exhibited in the way the BYU Honor Code is enforced particularly when it comes to black athletes, who according to the numbers cited in the article, represent a disproportionate percentage of students dismissed for Honor Code violations.    He also seemed to balk a bit when asked why he didn’t include any positive experiences by athletes like those mentioned here.

I don’t doubt Smith’s sincerity or passion about the subject of race at BYU and if there is racism involved it needs to be exposed and rooted out.  I don’t believe it is institutionalized or widespread, and those coming out in opposition to this article agree.  Deadspin doesn’t have all the details of each case either, just the comments of some former players who got kicked out or left BYU who happen to be black.

There are two sides to every story.  This could have been an informative and thought provoking article had it been balanced, but as written, its nothing more than a fire starter.

This is just too good to pass up.  Conservatives certainly have their flaws and imperfections but when placed side by side with Liberals and Progressives the principles of conservatism shine brightly.

Case in Point: Financial Guru Neil Cavuto goes head to head with Democrat Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.  Its almost mean to let this woman speak on national television with no handlers there to protect her.  Texas must be so proud.


Brandon Davies: Is BYU’s Premarital Sex Controversy Good For College Sports?

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Back in March I wrote about Jimmer Fredette and BYU’s run to the NCAA tournament.  In that post I mentioned the situation with Brandon Davies, the 6’9″ power forward/center, suspended for the remainder of the season due to an honor code violation.  We later learned that violation had to do with the provision of the BYU honor code referring to living a “chaste and virtuous life”.   Brandon admitted to having sexual relations with his girlfriend.

What followed is, in my mind, a proud moment for BYU and for Brandon Davies.  I could opine about that for pages but I’d rather share an article in Time magazine published on March 4th by a disinterested 3rd party that closely follows my own thoughts and feelings on the situation.  The author, Sean Gregory, articulates well the magnitude of the decision by BYU and the possible ripples that decision could have in college sports in general in the future.

It’s a great read, so I decided to re-post it here with attribution.

Brandon Davies: Is BYU’s Premarital Sex Controversy Good For College Sports?

These days, bad behavior among college athletes is a fact of campus life. Beat up a freshman in a barroom one night and you can be back on the court three days later. Just this week, a Sports Illustrated and CBS News investigation found that more than 200 players on the rosters of 25 major college football teams have run afoul of the law. Nearly a quarter of scholarship athletes on the University of Pittsburgh squad have criminal records.

College athletics is a multibillion-dollar enterprise, and the pressure to win at any cost — including turning a blind eye to player misbehavior — can be overwhelming. That’s why the news this week that Brigham Young University (BYU) would force starting center Brandon Davies to miss the rest of the season for violating the school’s honor code was so surprising.

The team looked like a title contender. BYU is ranked third in the country, and Davies, who averages 11.1 points and 6.2 rebounds, is a key player; in their first game without him, the Cougars were trounced by the University of New Mexico, 82-64.

But the most surprising fact of the story is that Davies got booted for behavior that wasn’t criminal. What he did takes place, to put it mildly, every day in colleges across the country: Davies had sex with his girlfriend.

BYU is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which frowns on premarital relations. Davis, like 98% of BYU students, is a Mormon. Upon entering the school, students vow to abide by its honor code, which prohibits premarital sex as well as indulging in alcohol or coffee. “The honor code is an essential part of your recruitment to BYU,” says Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young, who played at BYU from 1981 to ’83. “It’s not like you find out later — ‘Oh, you didn’t tell me! I didn’t know that!’ But there’s a spirit on campus that is just, ‘O.K., fine, now let’s now go have a good time.'”

The judgment on Davies doesn’t come without costs to the school. If BYU fails to advance in the upcoming NCAA tournament without its star center, the rest of the team — young men who worked hard, obeyed the rules and did nothing wrong — miss out on a life experience they may never recapture.

But you have to admire an institution that sticks by its principles. “The expression of love between a man and a woman is sacred, valued at the highest level,” says Shawn Bradley, the 7-ft. 6-in. former NBA player who spent a year at BYU and spent two years on a mission in Australia before entering the 1993 draft. Indeed, many BYU alums say they support the school’s decision. “Sorry, I’m choking up a bit here,” says Philadelphia sportscaster Vai Sikahema, a former NFL return specialist who played for BYU in the mid-1980s. “It’s just hard for me to express just how immensely proud I am of my university.”

He should be. When it comes to athletes and sex, the easy call is to let the jocks slip. On any campus, athletes are visible, and popular, especially when a team is winning. And though it’s probably easier for a student to squelch his or her desires at a place where all 30,000 undergrads are also trying to stay chaste, suppression is still a challenge. “It was difficult for me,” says Bradley, a devout Mormon. “We all have those urges. You’re dealing with hormones, which are out in full force. But you have to stay focused, and put yourself in the right places to protect yourself.”

The willingness of BYU to police poor conduct is sharply at odds with other college programs. At Seton Hall University last season, for example, a basketball player who caused an accident while driving under the influence, causing an injury to the other driver, was suspended for only eight games. This year, a top player from Robert Morris University got a four-game penalty after a drunk-driving incident. In February, two players from Marshall University were charged with battery over a bar fight; they played in a game the next evening. Schools often let athletes off easy for on-field transgressions too. Two seasons ago, a University of Florida football player intentionally gouged an opponent’s eyes. He was suspended for a half.

BYU has every incentive to just slap Davies on the wrist for his transgression. A successful run at the Final Four could generate millions of dollars in television revenues and alumni donations for the school, and the added exposure and prestige can increase applications.

BYU boosters, however, believe the Davies incident could be a selling point on its own, by broadcasting the school’s principled stand on honesty and taking responsibility. Davies himself has apologized to his teammates and took his punishment without complaining. And despite the stiff penalty it levied, BYU also teaches forgiveness. “It’s really a pretty compassionate place,” says Young, a great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young himself. “I guarantee you there’s a huge outreach to make sure that he’s O.K. If I could talk to him, I’d put my arm around him and say, ‘Hang in there, get back on the court when you can, and make it right.'”

Davies may learn a great deal from this experience. “This could be a seminal moment in this young man’s life,” says Sikahema. “Better that it happens at 20, rather than 50, with four kids. He’ll probably be a better man, and that’s ultimately what BYU is about, building leaders, building men. If that means missing out a chance at the Final Four, well, that’s what happens.”

Would any other school pay that price? More than likely, too few would pass the Brandon Davies test.

Gregory is a staff writer at TIME. Keeping Score, his sports column for, appears every Friday. Follow him on Twitter at @seanmgregory

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It’s Peanut Butter Jimmer Time

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I guess it’s time to weigh in on the phenomenon known in the great state of Utah and more or less around the country as “Jimmer Mania”.

Jimmer Fredette is a talented basketball player on the BYU Cougars basketball team. Jimmer’s story is really quite amazing and has been told in media outlets around the globe in recent months and the media in general can’t get enough of Jimmer. It’s that story of a small town kid out of New York state who dreamed of being something bigger than he should ever dream and having the dedication and persistence to actually make that dream come true.  It’s the stuff of fairy tales and bedtime stories.

From dribbling down a dark LDS church house hallway as a pre-teen while his older brother and friends would jump out of the darkness and try to knock the ball away from him to playing in a local prison yard and dropping 40 points on the inmate’s team as an 18 year-old, Jimmer has methodically done everything needed to excel at the game of basketball and now he’s leading his BYU Cougars to a top 10 ranking and probably #2 seed in the NCAA tournament come mid-March.

If that were the end of the story it would be a good one, but this one is a real page turner.  Last week after BYU beat San Diego State for the second time, in front of a national TV audience on CBS, and then moving from #7 in the polls to #3, with talk of a #1 seed in the big dance, the unthinkable happened.  Brandon Davies, a 6’9″ center/power forward and leading rebounder on the Cougar squad was suspended for the remainder of the season for an Honor Code violation.  The BYU honor code is something every BYU student must sign to attend the school.  I signed it as a 30 year old sophomore, married with 3 kids when I went back to school.  It’s clear what is expected and if you break the rules there will be consequences.  Some parts of the honor code carry more severe consequences and unfortunately Brandon broke one of the biggies.

The following Wednesday BYU lost at home to New Mexico by 18 points and it looked like the wheels were going to come off the wagon.  Media from every corner began to lament and scream the demise of the once presumed final four bound BYU Cougars.  But really what did people expect?  Here’s a group of 18 to 24 year olds who just lost a friend, team mate, and important part of their winning ways.  The emotions of hearing that news on Tuesday and then having to play a big game against a team that had beaten you earlier in the season was simply overwhelming in my opinion and the Cougars played like it.  Jimmer still had 32 points but the rest of the team could only manage 34.

The cool thing about all this drama is how the world has responded.  Fans on message boards posting in anonymity were typically rude, crude, and derogatory in their statements about BYU, the honor code, Jimmer, Brandon, and the LDS Church, but the responses from media outlets around the globe were incredibly supportive of BYU and it’s willingness to stand for what it believes in regardless of the consequences for its basketball team and the fame and money that would come to the school had it gone to the final four and beyond.  Chalk one up for the good guys who stand for something and don’t back down because it isn’t the popular thing to do.  But that’s BYU.  It always has been and always will be.

So the saga continues as the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament begins tomorrow with BYU playing TCU at 1 pm.  It will be fun to see how BYU plays without their star center with the spotlight shining hot upon them while the country waits to see if they will stub their toe and falter going into March Madness.  I think BYU will be just fine and will surprise people.  But that story will be written in the coming days and weeks and I’ll be a faithful follower right to the last game!